June 23, 2017 // 4:30 p.m.
It’s that time of year again, when the games industry collectively forgoes sleep for a week in order to demonstrate, play, discuss, and write about the biggest games coming out in the next twelve months. But which company showcased the best lineup of games? What were the biggest surprises? Who used the word ‘dynamic’ the most? All will be revealed in our 2017 E3 roundup.
EA’s 2017 lineup is best described as “strong and stable”, if not massively surprising. It kicked off the show by unveiling a new Madden NFL game, which adopts an updated version of the intriguing story mode seen in last year’s FIFA. This was followed by an expansion to Battlefield 1, which introduces the Eastern Front and adds eight new maps. Then came the traditional announcement of a new FIFA, followed by the reveal of Need for Speed Payback, which is to be an open-world, story driven affair.
So far, so predictable. But next EA unveiled by far the most interesting game of the conference. A Way Out is a cooperative, split-screen prison escape game developed by the creators of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. It resembles a halfway house between Uncharted and something like Hitman, with stealth and environmental puzzles blending with dramatic action sequences. It looks fascinating, and I can’t wait to try it out.
After this unexpected improvisation, EA went back to script with the reveal of a new NBA. EA DICE closed off the conference with a look at Star Wars: Battlefront II, which promises an extended single-player campaign and a far more comprehensive multiplayer offering, including much improved Heroes and vehicle controls. I quite liked Battlefront, although I found it a touch too lightweight, but DICE seems to be making the right alterations for the sequel.
Just as things looked set to end, EA sprang another surprise on us in the form of BioWare’s new game. Anthem is a cooperative multiplayer shooter which is evidently attempting to steal Destiny’s Crown. Frankly, I thought it looked terribly bland, all generic power armour and pretty but mundane environments, and I saw little of what makes BioWare such an interesting developer in its latest game.
Overall, EA’s conference was fairly rote, with A Way Out representing the only real shock. Then again, it’s probably my most anticipated game of the entire show, so EA certainly made it count.
Microsoft’s E3 conference was about as E3 as E3 gets, a glittering, extravagant affair with a strong focus on technical fortitude and pushing the limits of hardware and rendering capability. All of this was centred around its new console, previously known as the Xbox Scorpio but now revealed as the Xbox One X. It’s a truly bizarre choice of name, considering the Xbox One is easily Microsoft’s weakest console to date.
Nevertheless, it’s a mighty,if expensive beast. Pitched as a 4K console and priced just under $500, it comes with a 6 Teraflops GPU clocked at 1.172GHz alongside 12GB of GDDR5 memory. But perhaps even more promising is the roster of games Microsoft showcased. It announced a whopping 42 titles for the platform already in development, over half of which will be exclusives.
Microsoft’s lineup included some impressive new showings, the biggest surprise of which was perhaps Metro: Exodus, the sequel to Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light. With Exodus, 4A Games plans to expand the concept from a linear shooter to a semi-open world structure akin to Stalker. Given the developer’s eye for detail and atmosphere, this could be truly exciting.
Also surprisingly intriguing was Assassin’s Creed Origins, a prequel set in ancient Egypt. Origins looks to remedy some of the long-standing bugbears of the series, such as wonky stealth and archaic combat. It also looks stunning, a fitting showcase for Microsoft’s new hardware.
Other announcements included Forza 7 and State of Decay 2, followed by a second look at Anthem, which did nothing to alleviate my concern that it looks about as interesting as a Ryvita and ready-salted crisp sandwich. Nevertheless, Microsoft came out swinging with its conference, and it looks like the Xbox One X may offer a genuine alternative to Playstation.